Hadassah Medical Center physicians are looking toward molecular medicine to decipher the causes and create the cures for cancer. By examining the structure and behavior of malfunctioning human cells as they progress through the disease process, they come closer to bringing a cure to the clinical setting.
Among the cutting-edge researchers in molecular medicine at Hadassah are:
Dr. Avi Nissan, head of the Surgical Oncology Laboratory at Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus
Specializing in gastrointestinal and colon cancer, Dr. Nissan, along with treating patients, is researching the role of “non-coding RNA fragments” in the development of tumors, genetic mutations in Palestinian women with breast cancer, genetic profiling of colorectal cancer in young patients, molecular targets for cancer immunotherapy, and the expression of molecular sequences in human colon cancer. He and his team are conducting 15 clinical trials, translating what they learn in the lab into new treatments for their patients.
Dr. Nissan and his team have identified a molecule that can be detected in blood samples, lymph nodes, and stool samples of colon cancer patients. Their goal is to use this molecule for “real-time diagnosis” and they are developing a kit that will enable doctors to diagnose colon cancer with simple blood and stool tests.
Dr. Karen Meir, pathologist and project manager of Israel’s National Tissue Bank located at Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem
Dr. Meir, formerly from Montreal, Canada, specializes in the pathology of the placenta and fetus with the aim of determining why a pregnancy fails. She completed a fellowship in embryo-fetal pathology at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
Dr. Meir and her team in the Tissue Bank are creating an extensive database of tissue samples from patients throughout Israel, which will enable doctors to identify biomarkers of various diseases and malfunctions, examine their origin and development, and follow their progression.
Dr. Eli Pikarsky, molecular biologist and head of the Laboratory for Molecular Pathology at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine
Dr. Pikarsky’s research aims to understand the tissue mechanisms that influence the malignant process. Specifically, he is investigating signaling pathways in mice that activate malignant cells in liver cancer. By uncovering the steps in the transformation process, he hopes to identify specific molecular events that can be interrupted, thereby preventing cancer from developing.
Human beings, Dr. PIkarsky explains, have safety mechanisms that continually prevent cancer. If we understand the safety mechanisms, he explains, we can augment them with new or existing drugs.